Three things before I begin my blog.
- I have heard that some of you have not seen my March 1 blog on Sydney and the Opera House. My suggestion is that you go to the March archives in the left sidebar. If you see anything that says “show” like my friend, Anne, did, click on that. You should see it.
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Today we left at 6:54 am for Milford Sound. We were bundled up as it was very cold at the start of the day, perhaps only a little above 0C or 32F. Brutal, eh? However, Brent complimented us and said that even a few minutes of a head start would be good, and he was absolutely right. This road and its destination, Milford Sound, attracts thousands of visitors and we were always a little ahead of the group, thanks to Brent’s early wake-up call.
We followed State Route 94 from Queensland through Te Anau into Fjordland National Park where Milford Sound is located. According to a little research I did, the road climbs to 940 meters above sea level in the Southern Alps. Along the way, we made stops at some very picturesque places, but honestly, none of us knew it was going to take all morning to get there by noon.
Two notable stops inside the Park were Mirror Lakes and The Chasm. Since we happily had a gorgeously glorious sunny day, I had a lot of fun photographing the reflections of the mountains in the beautiful clear Mirror Lakes water. At The Chasm, we walked through a rain forest of beech trees and ferns to a fast-moving waterfall.
We had to go through Homer Tunnel in the Duran mountains. It is slightly over a mile in length, and traffic is routed one way through the tunnel. It was started back in the 1930s, but it wasn’t completed until after WWII in 1953. It has about an 11% gradient, which is about the steepest any road will get in New Zealand.
Then Homer Tunnel was followed by some very narrow switchbacks Nigel was thankful for the special system on his bus what helps him negotiate the very steep curves. After that came some switchbacks until arriving st our destination Milford Sound, which really isn’t a sound after all, but a true fjord. Sounds are made with lake water, but fjords are made by glaciers. However, nothing has ever been done to try to change Milford Sound to Milford Fjord. The guide told us that the water on top of Milford Sound is fresh several meters down, but salt underneath. This is common for fjords apparently as the fresh and salt water meet, but remain separate. This is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site to conserve and preserve its beauty.
We boarded our cruise ship only to discover that we had been issued the “no food” included ticket. We ate anyhow and then settled back to enjoy the scenery of Milford Sound. I was having a little trouble with my camera as my polarizing lens is at home in at Renton, and the day was sunny. Still I got some nice photos for you to enjoy. Notice that Milford Sound has some resident seals. They look pretty happy.
We headed back to Queenstown after we came to shore about 3:00. We didn’t arrive in Queenstown until after 7:00. We ate some po’boys at Smiths for dinner. I’m sorry that I had to shoot so many of my photographs through the bus window and in motion and that I’m too tired tonight to give you more written description. The landscape is beautiful and how I thought most of New Zealand was going to look.
I included a photo of a bottle of a deer velvet horn supplement that is sold here in Queenstown.